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Open-Source Ecology Takes Root Across the World

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Science  21 Oct 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6054, pp. 308-309
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6054.308

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In 2005, a handful of young researchers fed up with their inability to answer a major ecological question by reviewing the literature decided to take matters into their own hands and created a network of small experiments. In the past 6 years, the collaboration, called the Nutrient Network, has grown far beyond initial expectations, with scientists volunteering at 68 sites in 12 countries. In part, it's popular because the simple experiments are designed to answer a broad set of questions about how grasslands respond to global change without disproportionate effort by any one individual. The network also provides an easy way for young faculty members, postdocs, and grad students to get involved in a large collaboration and contribute to high-profile papers.